Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Going Dutch

I've posted many times about my times in Tennessee, but I also spent time in the Catskill Mountains of New York with my mom's parents.

My grandpa was a construction worker who drove big Caterpillar trucks to help build the highways of upstate New York. He also built their house in the mountains. My grandma was a homemaker that never worked outside the home.

The Catskills were the setting of Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle," a story I have always loved. As in the story, the area is full of Dutch who settled there when they came to America. It was easy to picture good old Rip hunting in the woods around my grandparents home.

Gradma's cast iron stove
Since there were no other children to play with we had to be more creative. One of my favorite activies was to go into their root celler and see all the treasures they had stored from their life together. My grandmother had a cast iron stove that was just the right size to play with my Barbie dolls They became Pilgrim Barbies for the week or so that we visited. They also had an old stereoscope with cards from the Catskill area. My grandfather was a coin and stamp collector so we often poured over his collection.

We always made a visit to my grandmother's younger sister and her husband. We always had fun at Dot and Ed's and they were like another set of grandparents. Dot always had fresh goodies baked and over the years she gave me special little necklaces. Dot and Ed's one daughter never had any children so in some ways we did become her grandchildren. A few years ago their daughter died following a car accident. I still send them a Christmas card every year.

My grandparents celebrate their 72nd weding anniversary this year. They live in an assisted living home together where my grandmother still looks after my grandfather, who has alzheimer's. Grandma's cast iron stove sits proudly in my kitchen. The picture that has hung over my kitchen table since my marriage is the one that use to hang over their table during my childhood.

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